http://www.freep.com/article/20091028/NEWS03/91028034/1319/2nd-teen-convicted-in-beating-death-of-homeless-men-in-Pontiac

BY L.L. BRASIER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

A second teen was convicted this morning in the beating death of a homeless man in Pontiac more than a year ago.

Dontez Tillman, 15, faces life in prison without parole when he is sentenced Nov. 13 for first-degree felony murder. His codefendant, Thomas McCloud, was convicted Tuesday of the same charge and he, too, will go to prison for life. The two were convicted in Wilford Hamilton’s death.

Also, in a new development, police say they arrested a third teen last night in the 2008 beating deaths. Darrin Higgins Jr. 17, was arrested at his home, and charged with two counts of first-degree felony murder. He is to be arraigned in District Court in Pontiac today at 1:30 p.m.

Police contend Higgins, McCloud and Tillman went on a three-day wilding spree in Pontiac in late August 2008, attacking people on the street and targeting homeless men.

Hamilton, 61, and Lee Hoffman, 65, both homeless, were found beaten unconscious and later died at local hospitals. Two other men survived, but one was seriously injured with a broken nose and broken ribs.

Pontiac Police Detective Steve Wittbort, the chief investigator in the killings, said this morning he was saddened by the convictions of such young defendants, but committed to being an advocate of the victims.

“They had the audacity to go after people who could not defend themselves,” Wittbort said.

The arrest of Higgins on Tuesday night came after months of searching for him, Wittbort said. He became a suspect – and a warrant was issued — shortly after the beatings.

If convicted, he, too, faces life in prison without parole. Wittbort said Higgins was 16 at the time of the killings.

Contact L.L. BRASIER: lbrasier@freepress.com or 248-858-2262.